SuperChemVR: A Immersive Reality Chemistry Game
Purpose: This project team will fully develop and test SuperChemVR, a virtual environment integrated within a Virtual Reality (VR) headset for an immersive exploration of a chemistry lab. While chemistry labs offer the benefits of hands-on experimentation to help students learn abstract concepts, they are costly to maintain, supervise, and pose safety risks. Virtual chemistry labs for computers and tablets allow students to explore chemistry safely with unlimited resources, and provide immediate feedback and automated assessments, but these "point-and click" experiences are not immersive or hands-on. Immersive VR allows users to fully experience an interactive, 3-Dimensional 360-degree environment.
Project Activities: During Phase I, (completed in 2016), the team developed a prototype of SuperChemVR, including a virtual chemistry lab environment within which students immerse themselves while wearing a VR headset. At the end of Phase I, researchers completed a pilot study with 54 students and three teachers. Results demonstrated that the hardware and software prototype operated as intended, teachers were able to integrate it within the classroom environment, and students were engaged while using the prototype. In Phase II, the team will add content modules and a gameplay narrative to the platform, build the automated feedback mechanism, strengthen the back-end management system, and build out the teacher reporting dashboard. After development is complete, the research team will conduct a larger pilot study to assess the feasibility and usability, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the SuperChemVR for improving student learning in chemistry. The study will include 10 high school chemistry classrooms, half randomly assigned to use SuperChemVR and half to follow business-as-usual procedures. Researchers will compare pre-and-post scores of student's chemistry learning.
Product: SuperChemVR is a room-scale VR lab and learning game for high school chemistry students. While wearing a VR headset, students will be immersed in a simulated chemistry 3D-environment where they will be challenged to acquire basic lab and safety skills. Through actual, accurate measurement and experimentation, students will improve their understanding of chemistry practices as they learn using science to solve problems. VR will enhance students' chemistry experience by providing instant cleanup, access to infinite resources, and observations at exponentially larger and smaller scales while simulating accurate physical actions in a safe environment. In the game component of the intervention, students will participate in an outer-space adventure that takes place on a derelict spaceship requiring players to use chemistry to survive until they can be rescued. SuperChem VR will be used in the classroom by teachers as a demonstration tool, will provide implementation supports, and will provide teachers with reports on student performance.
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